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Danish Christmas Traditions

Christmas time is my favourite holiday! For me it’s a time to connect with your loved ones and forget about all the less good things that happened thought the year.

In Denmark, this time of the year it’s so beautiful that I recommend anyone to come for a visit. Copenhagen is full of sparkling lights and everyone is in good spirits. Danes fully embrace the Christmas spirit very early, sometimes mid-November you can see houses already decorated with lights and stars.

Danish Christmas Traditions

I can totally relate the term ‘Hygge’ with this time of the year, as everyone is feeling happy and enjoying a cozy time at home with the family and other loved ones.

It will be my second Christmas in Denmark and I already embraced some traditions that I really love here. Doing the Christmas tree in November it’s not a bad thing after all! Today I’m showing you 10 Danish Christmas Traditions that I have learned since living here.

CHRISTMAS CALENDARS

The Julekalender is the advent calendar in Denmark. They can also be called ‘gift calendar’ because instead of little chocolates the calendar have 24 small gifts. The tradition is primarily for children to have a gift a day, starting on the first of December until Christmas Eve, but adults can do it too.

This year I bought a DYI calendar and filled it myself with small gifts/chocolates to open throughout the month. A lot of families will do the calendars themselves, with small bags for example, for each day. This makes the lead up to Christmas way more fun!

Danish Christmas Traditions

ADVENT WREATH

The Advent wreath is used in many countries. In Denmark it’s decorated with four candles, one for each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas Eve.

Most of the ones I’ve seen are adorned with white candles, berries and cones and ideally red ribbons to be put up, like these ones. 

CALENDAR CANDLE

A candle with numbers 1 to 24 is used to count down the days from the first of December until Christmas Eve. Once a day, the families gather to light up the candle, burning one number each day.

It’s a very simple way of doing the countdown but it’s incorporated as a special tradition, generally shared by members of the family in a special time of the day.

Danish Christmas Traditions

DANISH BRAIDED CHRISTMAS HEARTS

The tradition of making this traditional Danish braided hearts and then hung up on the tree comes a long way. It is said that this tradition started with Hans Christian Andersen, but its unclear when they started to be used as a Christmas tree decoration, giving the fact that the originals ones had no handle. You can do your own with these instructions.

Danish Christmas Traditions
These are made in glass to put in the Christmas Tree

YULE GOAT

This Scandinavian and Northern European symbol was in the pass connected to Pagan festivals and misfortune amongst other bad things.

Nowadays is used in Denmark as decorative item. Made of straw and hold together with a red ribbon it can be seen in most Christmas markets around Copenhagen and it can also be used as smaller version to put up in the Christmas tree.

Danish Christmas Traditions Yule Goat

SAINT LUCIA

On the 13th of December, Saint Lucia it’s celebrated all over Denmark. In Copenhagen there are several places where you can see the ‘Lucia Walk’ which consists on a parade of young girls all dressed in white and holding candles while singing. The tallest girl will be at the front of the parade wearing a crown with four candles.



SWEET TRADITIONS

Amongst some of the most traditional food served during Christmas time in Denmark, the sweets for me take a special place. Most of it it’s due to the fact that the making of this deserts are normally associated with family time and being with your loved ones.

Danish Christmas Traditions Klejner
Vaniljekranse
RISENGRØD

It can be eaten all year round to be fair but during Christmas time it’s just takes another level as it makes you feel warm and cosy inside, a total ‘hygge’ for the mind. Risengrød it’s a rice pudding with milk, sugar and cinnamon on top. It’s very delicious!

RISALAMANDE

Ris a l’Amande it’s a cold rice pudding that it’s served with hot cherry sauce on top. It is tradition to hide on or more almonds in it. However finds the almond, gets a present!

ÆBLESKIVER

Most known as the pancake balls as they are made of sweet dough in a form of ball using a special pan. It’s served with strawberry jam and powdered sugar and I always have it by this time of the year!

Danish Christmas Traditions
Klejner and Æbleskiver
CHRISTMAS COOKIES

There a lot of traditional Danish cookies around, since cakes and cookies can’t really be missed in any place in Denmark! The ones I’m mentioning here are the most traditional, at least the ones I’m aware of.

The Klejner are fried twisted cookies make of dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar on top. Vaniljekranse are vanilla butter ring cookies and once you start eating them it’s hard to stop, just saying! Pebernødder are small rounded cookies made with a variety of spices. Brunkager it’s the Danish brown cookie with almond and pistachio nuts which I have seen but not yet tried it myself. Jødekager or Jewish cookie takes sugar, cinnamon and sliced almonds on top and are delicious.

GLÖGG

The traditional Danish drink that’s everywhere. All Christmas markets will be selling these and it’s basically hot red wine with cinnamon, raisins and almonds. You have to try it at least once!

DANCING AROUND THE TREE

On Christmas Eve after dinner and presents shared, the families dance together around the tree, holding hands and singing carols.

Danish Christmas Traditions

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

One of my favourite traditions is the Christmas Markets and they are all over. Just here in Copenhagen there are several around the city, where you can buy mostly handmade products such as scarves and gloves or decoration ornaments. They also have traditional treats making it a fun day out with family or friends.

Danish Christmas Traditions
Danish Christmas Traditions

I always love to learn more about other people’s culture and traditions, so I had to share this article you guys! What do you think?

What about your own experiences of Christmas in Denmark, did I miss something important? Let me know!

Skål, Cheers!

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Danish Christmas Traditions

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Tags : CelebrationschristmascopenhagenDenmarkTraditions

18 Comments

  1. Interesting traditions. I like the concept of Calendar candle most which is the time for family get together too. Thanks for writing this informative article,

  2. I’ve been to Denmark when I was little. I barely remember but I can’t wait to visit again! And in Christmas time! I didn’t know about the Danish braided Christmas heart! I would love forward to see them when I visit. Love all those yummy cookies! What a wonderful Christmas to spend time!

  3. Wow! your photos are so perfectly amazing! I think the big christmas trees are really nice… I always prepare to put one small christmas tree inside the house… thanks for sharing your wonderful photos!

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